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With the Seattle Kraken having to submit their selections for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft in less than 24 hours, NoVa Caps takes one final stab at predicting what the first roster is going to look like. You can view our previous mock expansion drafts from 2019 here, 2020 here, the midway point of 2020-21 here, the 2021 Stanley Cup Final here, and Saturday here. You can see all 30 protection lists here.
We have made our picks based on factors such as the length of time a player has remaining on their contracts, their cap hit, age, and stats from this season as well as past years. NHL.com, Natural StatTrick, and JFresh Hockey were sources used for stats.
The Kraken have to select one player from every team except the Golden Knights, who are exempt from the expansion draft. The Kraken must draft at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen, three goaltenders, and 20 players who are under contract for the 2021-22 NHL season while staying compliant with the $81.5 million salary cap and the $48.9 million salary floor for next season. Of the 30 players selected (and whatever draft picks the Kracken have this year), the team will dress an opening night roster of 23 players, so some expansion draft picks could be dealt while others will be sent to the American Hockey League.
Kraken Select: LHD Hadyn Fleury
The 25-year-old was not expected to be left exposed as he is in his prime and notched two goals, three points, and a -6 rating in 12 games with the Ducks after getting acquired from the Hurricanes. Fleury, who carries a $1.3 million cap hit through next season when he can become a restricted free agent, posted three goals, four points, a -6 rating, a 52.42% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 49.62% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 52.33% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 47 games with the Ducks and Hurricanes this season. He averaged 15:24 of ice-time per game, including 1:14 on the penalty kill, between the two teams. While with Carolina, Kraken GM Ron Francis drafted Fleury as his first draft selection as a general manager in 2014 (seventh overall).
Kraken Select: RHD Ilya Lybushkin
The 27-year-old recorded one goal, two points, a -13 rating, a 46.46% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 44.92% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 42.86% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 42 games last season. Lybushkin, who carries a $1 million cap hit for one more season before being eligible to become an unrestricted free agent, has one goal, 10 points, and a -18 rating in 134 career NHL games, all with the Coyotes.
Kraken Select: LW Nick Ritchie
It was a little surprising that the Bruins exposed the 25-year-old, who scored 15 goals and 26 points in 56 games this past season. Ritchie, the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, has shown some scoring potential in his career as he scored 14 goals in 77 games with the Anaheim Ducks in 2016-17, 10 goals in 76 games the following season, 31 points in 60 games in 2018-19, and nine goals in 48 games between Anaheim and Boston in 2019-20. Ritchie, who can play the role of enforcer, can become a restricted free agent on July 28.
Kraken Select: RHD Colin Miller
Miller is coming off of a season where he recorded four goals, 12 points, a -20 rating (on a team with a league-worst -61 goal differential), a 48.56% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 44.82% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 45.34% five-on-five scoring-chances for percentage. The 28-year-old is known for his heavy shot and has had offensive success in the past as he scored 10 goals and 41 points in 82 games with the Golden Knights, who selected him in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, in 2017-18.
Kraken Select: LHD Mark Giordano
According to The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the Kraken informed the Flames on Monday that they will take the 37-year-old, who shows no signs of slowing down after posting nine goals, 26 points, a +5 rating, a 53.12% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, and a 52.63% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage in 56 games this past season. Giordano averaged a Flames-high 22:57 per game, including 2:22 on the power play (second among Flames defensemen behind Rasmus Andersson: 2:44) and 3:03 on the penalty kill (just four seconds behind Chris Tanev for the lead among Calgary blueliners. He accounts for $6.75 million against the salary cap for one more season.
Kraken Select: LHD Jake Bean
According to Seravalli, Francis will swipe the 23-year-old, who recorded a goal, 12 points, a -2 rating, a 52.4% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 51.77% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 52.86% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 42 games this past season. Francis drafted Bean, who averaged 14:32 per game last season (including 55 seconds on the power play and 17 on the penalty kill), 13th overall in 2016. He can become a restricted free agent next week. This pick could come as a bit of a surprise considering 28-year-old right wing Nino Niederreiter, who tallied 20 goals for the fifth time in his 10-season NHL career in 2020-21, is exposed.
Kraken Select: LHD Nikita Zadorov
Per Bally Sports’ Andy Strickland, the Kraken will take the 26-year-old, who recorded a goal, eight points, a +1 rating, a 44.76% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 44.9% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 43.14% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 55 games last season, from the Blackhawks. Zadorov, who can become a restricted free agent in a week’s time, averaged 19:12 per game last season, including 1:46 on the penalty kill. This could be viewed as a bit of a surprise when taking into account that the Blackhawks exposed Calvin de Haan, though he is four years older than Zadorov.
Kraken Select: RW Joonas Donskoi
The 29-year-old, who recorded 17 goals and 31 points in 51 games last season, was expected to be protected as he has hit the 31-point plateau in all but one of his six NHL seasons. Donskoi, who has either broke or tied his previous career-high in goals in each of the past four seasons, carries a $3.9 million cap hit for two more years.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Kraken Select: C Max Domi
The 26-year-old’s first season in Columbus did not go as planned as he finished with nine goals and 24 points in 54 games. Though, he is two years removed from a 44-assist, 72-point season with the Montreal Canadiens and tallied 17 goals and 44 points. Roslovic, 24, fit in well after getting acquired from the Winnipeg Jets as he posted 12 goals and 34 points in 48 games. Domi carries a $5.3 million cap hit for one more season before he can become a restricted free agent.
Kraken Select: C Joel L’Esperance
With many unrestricted free agents on the backend and goaltender Ben Bishop having had injury issues throughout his NHL career, the Kraken take the 25-year-old, who posted two goals in 12 NHL games this season and has had success in the AHL and short stints in the NHL. L’Esperance makes $725,000 for one more season before becoming a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
Detroit Red Wings
Kraken Select: RW Vladislav Namestnikov
Even though the 28-year-old disappointed with eight goals and 17 points in 53 games in his first season with the Red Wings, he has hit the 30-point plateau in four of the past five seasons and hit 28 in the one season he did not over that time. In two of the three prior seasons before this one, Namestnikov recorded at least 17 goals. At only $2 million for one more season, there is little risk selecting a player who has shown potential for scoring at the NHL level.
Kraken Select: LW Dominik Kahun
In his first two NHL seasons, the 26-year-old scored 13 and 12 goals, respectively, and 37 and 31 points in 82 and 56 games, respectively, despite playing for three teams over that time. Kahun, who can become a restricted free agent on July 28, was productive again this past season, his first in Edmonton, with nine goals and 15 points in 48 games.
Kraken Select: G Chris Driedger
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Kraken are close to signing the 27-year-old unrestricted free agent, who went 14-6-3 with a .929 save percentage, a 2.09 goals-against average, and three shutouts this past season, to a three-year contract that carries a cap hit of $3.5 million as their expansion pick from the Panthers. In 12 games in 2019-20, Driedger went 7-2-1 with a .938 save percentage, a 2.05 goals-against average, and a shutout. If they were willing to wait until July 28 to sign him at a lower opportunity cost, the most likely selection would have been left-handed defenseman Markus Nutivaara. The 27-year-old played in just 30 games this season but took advantage when given a jersey with 10 assists, a 54.69% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 54.76% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, a 55.85% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage, and a 55.1% shot-attempts for percentage.
Los Angeles Kings
Kraken Select: LHD Olli Maatta
The 26-year-old had a disappointing first season in Los Angeles where he posted four assists and a -8 rating in 41 games even though he recorded a 47.02% Corsi-for percentage, a 44.67% expected goals-for percentage, and a 44.56% scoring chances-for percentage at five-on-five. With a solid defenseman who is in his prime and already has two Stanley Cups under his belt available, it is hard to pass up on Maatta, who carries a $3,333,225 cap hit for one more season before he could hit unrestricted free agency.
Kraken Select: LHD Carson Soucy
The 26-year-old has not gotten many opportunities in his first two NHL seasons but has played well when given a chance after recording seven goals, 14 points, and a +16 rating in 55 games in 2019-20 and one goal, 17 points, a +22 rating, a 42.54% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 49.13% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 45.96% five-on-five scoring-chances for percentage. His defensive numbers took a hit this season but Soucy is still young and his statistics at both ends of the rink overall are pretty solid.
Kraken Select: LHD Brett Kulak
Even though goaltender Carey Price is available, the 34-year-old will miss the start of next season with hip and knee injuries and carries a $10.5 million cap hit through age 38. He has finished with a save percentage of .909 at the highest in three of the past four seasons, including .901 this past regular season. Price went 12-7-5 with a 2.64 goals against average and one shutout in 2020-21 and played in just 25 games due to injury.
The Kraken will most likely pick the 27-year-old analytical darling after he recorded two goals, eight points, a +3 rating, a 56.33% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, and a 52.92% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage while averaging 16:06 per game in 46 games this season.
Kraken Select: RW Calle Jarnkrok
The Predators decided to protect five defensemen and exposed the 29-year-old, whose 13 goals tied the team lead and 28 points ranked third. In addition, Jarnkrok has hit the double-digit-goal plateau in each of the past six seasons (hitting 15 in four of them) and 30-point plateau four times over that span. As he carries a team-friendly $2 million cap hit for one more season, Jarnkrok is a slam dunk pick for the Kraken.
New Jersey Devils
Kraken Select: G Evan Cormier
Left-wing Andreas Johnsson appears to be the Devils’ best player exposed but he was not as productive in the past in his first season in New Jersey as he recorded just five goals and 11 points in 50 games. That kind of production is underwhelming for a player with two years left on a contract that pays him $3.4 million per season.
With few other appealing options on the Devils, the Kraken will use this pick to take the third goalie that they are required to acquire in the expansion draft. The 23-year-old posted a 3-5-3 record, an .888 save percentage, and a 3.40 goals-against average in 11 games with the AHL’s Binghamton Devils this season.
New York Islanders
Kraken Select: RW Josh Bailey
The 31-year-old has produced at least eight goals and 32 points, respectively, in each of the past eight seasons, and his production ticked up before falling in each of the past two seasons. Though, Bailey has still been very productive with 14 goals and 43 points in 68 games in 2019-20 and eight goals and 35 points in 54 games this past one. The Kraken would be getting a consistent point producer at $5 million for three seasons.
New York Rangers
Kraken Select: RW Colin Blackwell
After a breakout campaign where he scored 12 goals and 22 points in 47 games, it was surprising that the Blueshirts left the 28-year-old exposed. As Blackwell comes with a price tag of just $725,000 for one more season, he is the likeliest to go from Broadway.
Kraken Select: RW Evgenii Dadonov
Like Namestnikov, the 32-year-old did not fit in as well with his new team as he posted just 13 goals and 20 points in 55 games in his first season in Ottawa. However, he recorded at least 25 goals in each of the three previous seasons with the Panthers and hit the 65-point mark and 70-point one in two of those years. With a cap hit of just $5 million, Dadonov would give the Kraken some scoring punch.
Kraken Select: LW James Van Riemsdyk
It will come down between Van Riemsdyk and right wing Jakub Voracek from the Flyers and since Van Riemsdyk carries a $7 million cap hit for two years compared to Voracek’s $8.25 million, three year deal, Van Riemsdyk gets the edge. The 32-year-old tied the team lead with 43 points this season while his 17 goals ranked third on the orange and black.
Kraken Select: LHD Marcus Pettersson
The Kraken will take one of the Penguins’ best two-way defenseman who is just 25 years old and recorded two goals, nine points, a +8 rating, a 48.92% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 51.16% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 48.89% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 47 games this season. Pettersson, who makes $4,025,175 per season for four more years, averaged 16:29 per game in 2020-21 (seventh among Penguins defensemen), including 45 seconds on the penalty kill, and tallied a career-high 22 points in 69 games in 2019-20.
San Jose Sharks
Kraken Select: C Ryan Donato
The 25-year-old’s production fell to six goals in 50 games during his first season in San Jose after a career-best season with the Wild where he set personal highs in goals (14) and points (23). Donato, who can become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in a week’s time, also showed some scoring potential in 2018-19 after he was acquired by the Wild from the Bruins where he finished the season with 12 assists and 16 points in 22 games.
St. Louis Blues
Kraken Select: LHD Vince Dunn
After at least a year of trade speculation, Dunn, who finished the season with six goals, 20 points, a -8 rating, a 49.35% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 45.04% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 47.69% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 43 games this season, stayed put and was exposed by the Blues. The 24-year-old, who can become a restricted free agent next week, finished with a five-on-five Corsi-for percentage no lower than 53.88% in his first three NHL seasons.
Left-wing Vladimir Tarasdenko is available but according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman, Seattle will not be his final destination if picked.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Kraken Select: C Yanni Gourde
In 56 games regular-season in 2020-21, the 29-year-old posted 17 goals and 36 points. Gourde carries a $5,166,666 cap hit for four more seasons. With a lower cap hit, more term on his contract, and since he is younger than right-wing Ondrej Palat, Gourde seems to be the best option out of many appetizing ones from the Lightning. He recorded a 25-goal season in 2017-18 and a 22-goal one the following year.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Kraken Select: C Jarred McCann
The 24-year-old posted 14 goals, 32 points, a +17 rating, a 54.66% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 54.54% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, a 56.17% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage, and a 43.4% face-off percentage in 43 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who traded McCann to Toronto on Saturday. McCann makes $2.94 million for one more season before he can become a restricted free agent. McCann tallied 35 points in each of the previous two seasons.
Kraken Select: G Braden Holtby
Word came out on Friday that the Kraken are interested in the 31-year-old goaltender, who played just 21 games last season and finished with a career-worst 7-11-3 record, .889 save percentage, and a 3.67 goals-against average in his first season in Vancouver. However, Holtby is a proven Stanley Cup Playoff performer and will make for a reliable back-up goaltender. He led the Washington Capitals to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2018.
Kraken Select: LW Conor Sheary
The 29-year-old, one of the youngest players on the team and was one of the Capitals’ most consistent producers this past season where he finished with 14 goals (fourth on the team) and 22 points in 53 games. Sheary, who has scored at least 10 goals in each of his first five full NHL seasons (including a 23-goal, 53-point output with the Penguins in 2016-17), signed a two-year contract extension that carries a team-friendly $1.5 million cap hit on April 14. Sheary won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017.
Kraken Select: RHD Dylan DeMelo
The 28-year-old is one of the NHL’s best shutdown defensemen after posting nine assists, a +10 rating, a 49.29% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 51.49% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 52.04% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging 16:58 per game, including 2:36 on the penalty-kill, in 52 games this past season. He recorded consecutive seasons with at least 20 points with the San Jose Sharks and Senators from 2017-19.
The Kraken could also take 25-year-old center Mason Appleton, who scored 12 goals and 25 points in 56 games for a breakout season, but DeMelo, who carries a $3 million cap hit for three more seasons, has better analytic results at both ends of the rink.
This roster currently has an average age of 27.1 years old, which would make them the 15th oldest team in the league.
With the team drafted, here is the projected lineup:
Van Riemsdyk — Domi — Dadonov
Gourde — McCann — Bailey
Sheary — Berniers — Namestnikov
Jarnkrok — Blackwell — Donskoi
Extra: L’Esperance, Ritchie, Donato
Giordano — DeMelo
Pettersson — Miller
Dunn — Zadorov
Extra: Maatta, Bean, Fleury, Lybushkin, Soucy, Kulak
The roster includes 15 forwards, 12 defensemen, and three goaltenders, and the cap hit is slightly less than $77.3 million once Driedger signs but that will likely change as the Kraken will sign pending free agents and likely trade numerous players after they make their picks on Wednesday. 23 of these players are under contract.
This would not be a bad start for the Kraken as this team has solid forward depth, a deep blueline, and a formidable goalie tandem. For an expansion team, their center depth looks pretty good but likely number two pick Matthew Berniers will have to live up to his potential.
Seattle will have to build at center through the NHL Draft, trades, or free agency. Luckily for the Kraken, they have the No. 2 overall pick. The top pick is expected to be defenseman Owen Powers, with Berniers projected to be the second overall pick, so that should patch the hole a little bit. The 18-year-old tallied 10 goals and 24 points in 24 games at the University of Michigan and one goal and three points in seven games for the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championships this past season.
The bottom-six is decent but may need another proven scorer for the Kraken to compete right away. In a weak Pacific Division with the Canucks, Sharks, Ducks, and Kings, this team should be able to compete for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.
The Kraken will submit their picks by Wednesday’s 10 AM ET deadline and the NHL will announce them to the public at 8 PM on ESPN2.
By Harrison Brown